Wednesday, February 25, 2015

noula // in conversation with Rhianna Walcott and Ruby Castagnet from fbi Radio

Ahead of her popular monthly community meditation event, noula diamantopoulos together with Artereal Gallery's Manager, Rhianna Walcott, caught up with fbi Radio Canvas producer, Ruby Castagnet, to talk about meditation and mindfulness and their role in the creative process.

The twelve minute interview aired on fbi Radio's popular visual arts program, Canvas, on Sunday 8th February. If you'd like to listen to the podcast, click here and listen from the 47 minute mark, otherwise keep reading below for some of the conversation highlights.

Ruby Castagnet: In the last two years, the practices of meditation and mindfulness tend to be trending with the masses. From Russell Brand and David Lynch advocating the benefits of these practices for the creative mind, or podcasts and YouTube channels offering private meditation lessons, mindfulness practices are being brought into mainstream environments to reach as many people as possible.

An exciting local example is the monthly group meditation event at Artereal Gallery, Rozelle, titled ‘From Meditation to Manifestation’. This event caught my curiosity as it made me wonder about the connection between mindfulness and creativity and what these practices can do for art and the artists.

Noula Diamantopoulos: [at the group meditation] we answer three questions; Why meditate? How to meditate? and What’s the difference between meditation and mindfulness? One of my skills, talents, is that I can ground things. A lot of this new age language is coming into our everyday vocabulary but it is not literally understood because it hasn't been experienced. I'm able to do that. People's ideas about meditation - 'I'm not good at meditation because I can't stop thinking' - well no, you don't stop thinking and that doesn't mean you're not having a great meditation. 

As part of this, they get to experience three different types of meditations so they can see which resonates more with them.  The first part of the session is 45 minutes of meditation and answering these three questions, and then there’ll be a teaching topic for about 40 minutes, where we’ll host a Q&A.

On the necessity of subjective judgement and industry criticism in the art world:

Rhianna Walcott: To be honest it’s not something we’ve had too big an issue with at Artereal. I think all art, especially contemporary art, is highly subjective so we do get people coming into the gallery and they will make it quite clear to us that a particular artwork isn’t doing it for them, that they don’t like it. When you hear those comments, often what they’re really telling me is that they don’t understand what the artist is trying to communicate, or what’s going on with the work. I get quite excited when people tell me they don’t like the work because it gives me an opportunity to start a discussion with them, to really talk about what the artist is trying to communicate and give them some basic contest. A lot of the time, if you give them that context and understanding, they’ll leave the gallery with a new understanding of the work.  They might still leave not liking the work, but they’ve got a new understanding.

For me personally with contemporary art, an artwork is successful if it makes you feel any sort of emotional response. It might be a negative response, confusion, disgust, they may not like it, but they are feeling something. So at the end of the day, on some level, the work has succeeded. Engaging with contemporary art is about dialoging with ideas and learning something about yourself in the process. 

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